Category Archives: Ryogan Chronicles

Seven weeks to Island of Exiles!

Did you know? Island Of Exiles is only SEVEN WEEKS AWAY! Each Tuesday until then, I’ll talk about my immense love for this world.

This week? Why fantasy at all? My existing backlist makes it obvious I enjoy writing other things, so why this? And why now? Most of the picture books I best remember (like Strega Nona & Everyone Knows What a Dragon Looks Like) included magic.

My Dad read Hobbit to me and introduced me to movies like Willow and The Princess Bride. It was all lovely & fascinating. When I could pick my own books, I gravitated towards the ones with magic and adventure and plausible impossibility. I discovered Tamora Pierce early, & she quickly became my first ever favorite author. Tortall & Evelyn were places I lived in. I read my way through a lot of what my library (and, later, various bookstores) had to offer me, and I loved the beauty of it all.

Fantasy is familiar novelty, safe adventure, a testing ground for new theories & thoughts, and an escape that can teach you about reality. Anything can happen in a fantasy world so long as you ground it in the reality the characters know and accept. The scope of that is awesome.

When I was in high school, it finally occurred to me that I could try writing one of those books I loved so much. I had NO idea what I was doing, so what I ended up with was thinly veiled, unfinished, nonsensical Tamora Pierce fanfic. I should point out that I didn’t know what fanfic WAS, but somehow I still managed to write it.

After college, I tried again. My first novel attempt was more paranormal than fantasy, but I grabbed a new fantasy idea fast. That book isn’t #IslandOfExiles, but they’re connected. They exist in the same world, and I could absolutely bring it back in. But CollegeWIP didn’t work either. It was too big, too complex, and too much for baby author Erica. I put it aside. Reluctantly.

Then, I wrote. More paranormal and more contemporary. I learned. I grew. Eventually, I had a new idea. But could I write it? Fantasy was still a great love of mine, but the writing of it had become a scary, impossible target, one I wasn’t sure I could reach. But I *REALLY* wanted to create a sweeping fantasy, and that desire was stronger than my fear of getting it wrong. So I grabbed this new idea, remembered everything I loved about fantasy, and tried one more time to build my own universe.

What I came up with then is only partially what you’ll get a chance to read in February. So much changed as the book developed. Things that didn’t? The Nevada-like setting, the militaristic society, the style of magic, & the sibling bond at the story’s core.

What Kate Brauning saw in the original mess of a proposal I gave her I will never understand, but she helped me make real a dream. Island Of Exiles is the achievement of a goal I set in 2001. It’s taken me FIFTEEN AND A HALF YEARS to finally have my fantasy world.

We’ll let that number sink in for a moment.

Fifteen. And a half. YEARS.

I don’t know what will happen once the Ryogan Chronicles trilogy is out and done. I don’t know if I’ll write more in this world. Maybe one day I’ll find the right spark to help me create an entirely new world with a new system of magic and new social issues. Maybe Ryogan Chronicles will be it for me in fantasy, my one shining, magical moment in the annuals of fantastical history.

All I know if that in seven weeks, my first fantasy baby will be out in the world, and I am BEYOND excited to share it with you all.

Visit Shiara! Order Island Of Exiles.

Buy it from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Books-A-Million | IndieBound

Add this book on Goodreads.

Three books, three tours.

2016 has been a dumpster fire in so many ways for so many people, and I would really love to start 2017 on a positive note. To that end, I’m running paperback blogger tours for three of my books: Discord, Nemesis, and Island of Exiles.

To participate, there are only two big qualifications: 
1) Own or contribute to a YA review blog
2) Be willing to mail the book to the next on the list

Readers will be invited to mark up the books, highlighting favorite passages or writing notes in the margins, and the book will get sent back to me at the end of the tour to be kept as a special keepsake. Additionally, all participants will get special behind-the-scenes info on the book they’re reading AND they’ll get the chance to vote on what content they see. As an added bonus, bloggers who are willing to coordinate one of the tours will receive a special gift from me when the tour ends!

Right now this will be US only, mostly because I can’t ask one blogger to cover the cost of shipping overseas. HOWEVER, if there’s enough interest, I’ll buy a copy through Book Depository for a separate international tour.

Signups open today, Monday December 12, 2016, and they’ll stay open for more than a month with the books getting shipped to the first participants just before the new year. The tour itself will continue for several months to give each reader time to enjoy the book and get it sent off to the next blogger.

If you have any questions about the tour, email me!

ASSASSINS: DISCORDMore Info | Signup Form
ASSASSINS: NEMESISMore Info | Signup Form
ISLAND OF EXILESMore Info | Signup Form

Coming in 2017!


In the first two months of 2017, I close out one series and immediately launch a new one. I can’t wait for both of these very different books to be out in the world!

Via:: Tumblr to WordPress

Look what I got!


How do you know you’re working with amazing people? They send you a freaking ornament with your book cover on it! Thank you SO MUCH, @bethany.robison! I’m actually excited to put up my Christmas tree now. 😍

Via:: Tumblr to WordPress

From Island Of Exiles…


A quote from the upcoming Island Of ExilesAttraction is instinct, but action is a choice.

Via:: Tumblr to WordPress

Everyone? Meet Tessen

islandofexiles-lr

In a way, the world Shiara occupies began back in 2008. I was fresh out of college, and I wanted to write a fantasy novel. That turns out to be hard to accomplish without an actual story idea, so I followed advice I found on Holly Lisle’s site and started with a map instead. I drew an elaborate world (seriously, I taped multiple pieces of graph paper together just to give myself space), arbitrarily assigned sociopolitical boundaries, and then began trying to explain both.

The story I came up with then isn’t the one you’re going to read in February, but the universe is.

Jump forward to 2014 and I decide to try a true fantasy novel again. I wanted to create something harsh and different and beautiful, so I plopped my characters in an Arizona/New Mexico-like desert and surrounded them with enemies and animals that could kill them. It was about twins and the perceptions of mercy in an aggression based society and a lot of other things.

This, also, is not the book you’re going to read in February, but it’s closer. I kept the setting, the enemies, and the animals. My narrator stayed, but changed her name, and her twin brother became a younger one. The character who remained almost exactly the same is Tessen. Somehow his character, one I didn’t plan for at all in the original version of the story, became the linchpin of this book, anchoring everyone and everything else as it all shifted around him. This isn’t his story, it’s Khya’s, but his footprints and fingerprints are all over the final version of Island of Exiles.

Readers likely won’t ever see the level of his influence. Tessen’s okay with that, but it’s why I’m so happy that the first excerpt I can share with you from the book introduces you to him! So read on and meet him for yourself. <3

I breathe the briny air and try to consider the options objectively. As objectively as I ever can when my brother is involved.

Yorri was the first person to tell me that one day I’d be kaigo, just like our blood-parents, serving the Miriseh and earning high honors in Ryogo. I’d flicked him on the shoulder and said “Of course I will be,” but his faith had been what convinced me I was right.

Yorri gets so excited he stumbles over his own words when he’s explaining how he solved some new, impossible puzzle. He devotes himself with frightening fervor to anything that ensnares his arrow-quick mind, but sometimes needs reminding that the rest of the world exists.

Forget objectivity. It’s worth the risk.

I am going to keep him safe, just like I always have.

“You’re going to be late for the vigil if you stand here staring into nothing for much longer, Khya.”

I tense, keeping my eyes on the angry, dark, blue white-capped waves. I’d heard the footsteps approaching, but several people had come and gone already and left me alone.

Tessen, however, never was able to keep his thoughts inside his head.

“I won’t be late.” I answer without looking at him until he moves into my peripheral vision.

He leans against the wall to the left of me, his forearms crossed on the ledge and his head tilted up. With his arms folded on the ledge and his body held slightly away from the wall, I can make out the lines of muscle under layers of cloth, all of it hard-earned—though I probably won’t ever admit that to him. I don’t look directly at him, but I turn my head enough to get a better look at his face.

He’s taller than me, so looking down on him like this is strange. Seeing him without the hood and atakafu we always wear on duty is stranger. I don’t think I’ve seen his whole face since he became nyshin over a year ago.

His thick eyebrows sit low over his deep-set eyes and the line of his nose is straight, because somehow he was always quick enough in training to avoid all but the most glancing blows to his face. The setting sun highlights the red in his terra-cotta skin and makes his oddly pale eyes flash. Usually they’re limestone gray, but now they’re paler than ever and gleaming almost as bright as the sunlight off the ocean.

“Shouldn’t you be off training? Or guarding something?” I ask before he speaks.

“I am.” He smirks at me. “I’m guarding the mad nyshin girl who’s decided to perch on the walls and imitate a mykyn bird.”

“I’m not planning on attempting flight.” I wave my hand at him, trying to brush him off. “You can go, Nyshin-ten.”

His lips purse; I hide a smile. It was delightful discovering exactly how annoyed he got when I called him by his class and rank instead of his name. The flash of aggravation disappears quickly, replaced by his more usual sardonic smile. “Should I guess what has you lost in your own head the night of a vigil?”

“No. I don’t have that much time.”

“Then I won’t guess. Only your brother puts that look on your face.”

I look at him, expecting to see mockery in his eyes. There isn’t any. He looks almost…serious?

“You’re worried about his herynshi. Unless he’s in trouble again? It’s been a while. He’s overdue.”

“It’s been a while because he doesn’t have to deal with people who point out his every mistake anymore. Like you.” Gritting my teeth, I bend to brace my hand on the ledge and jump down to where Tessen stands. At six feet, he’s only an inch or two taller than me. Our eyes are nearly level when I square off against him. “You’re one of the reasons he ever got in trouble in the first place.”

“And you spent years trying to make him invisible.” Tessen’s lips thin, and the muscles in his jaw clench for a moment. “Even before you found your wards, you shielded him from everything. What he can do now that you’re not there to monitor his every move should be all the proof you need.”

“He would have died if I hadn’t protected him.” Nothing will ever convince me it was wrong to keep him alive. “You can’t seriously be suggesting I should have let that happen?”

“No, that isn’t— You don’t even know what he’s capable of! How long has it been since you’ve seen him fight? It’s been—” He steps back, his lips pressed tight and his hands held away from his weapons. “Bellows, Khya. I didn’t come here to fight with you. This isn’t how this was supposed to go.”

I blink. “What?” Tessen backing away from an argument? This has to be a trick. “How what was supposed to go?”

He shakes his head, a small smile quirking up the corners of his mouth. “I only came to ask if you’d dance with me tonight at the celebration.”

He can’t be serious…but there’s not a single sign that he isn’t being sincere.

I drop my gaze to hide the confusion that has to show on my face. My focus catches on the pendant gleaming against the undyed cloth of his tunic—a two-inch iron disc etched with crossed zeeka swords. Blood and rot, I hate seeing that around his neck. The zeeka is the symbol of the kaigo; the pendant is a symbol of their students.

Tessen is wearing the kaigo-sei pendant that should have been mine.

Out of the whole clan, the Miriseh and the kaigo only choose one nyshin-ten per year. His blood-mother, Neeva, is on the kaigo council. Being named a kaigo-sei isn’t a guarantee of advancement, but it is a sign that the leaders of the clan are keeping an eye on you. The kaigo-sei are given extra training and have to face additional tests of magic, skill, and leadership. Not every nyshin named a kaigo-sei student becomes a council member, but no one who isn’t a kaigo-sei will ever become one. I can still earn one—and I will, sooner rather than later—but it seems like they’re already grooming Tessen to take Kaigo Neeva’s place one day.

Rot take him, it was supposed to be me.

Swallowing the fruitless envy building in my chest, I raise my eyes to meet Tessen’s again. “I don’t make promises I don’t intend to keep.”

“But that’s not a no, so I’ll ask again tonight.” He smiles, inclines his head, and then walks away whistling. I hate that sound, and I’m almost positive he knows that.

Buy it from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Books-A-Million | IndieBound

Add this book on Goodreads.

Introducing Island of Exiles!

MY FIRST EVER FANTASY NOVEL FINALLY HAS A FACE!

islandofexiles-lr

This project has been years in the making, and I’m thrilled to finally have a cover this stunning to show the world. More soon on this one (honestly, I probably won’t shut up about it until well past the release date), but for now, I’ll be over here staring at the pretty for a while.